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Guantes
02-27-2005, 11:49 AM
With a number of threads of late on the intervention of individuals into various situations, most have dealt with the actions of the intervening party and the ramifications thereof. What about the decision itself.

To Intervene Or Not To Intervene

This is not about the actions you take if you intervene. It is about the decision itself.

I believe that those of the warrior family, be they LEO or Civilian, feel a certain motivation, mindset or drive to come to the aid of those in need. I do not know or claim to know the origin of this motivation but I recognize its existence. Be it a lone woman on the side of the road with a flat tire or a person under attack by some AH. I think the difference between a good samaritan and a warrior is that the good samaritan and the warrior will both help to change the tire but it will take the warrior with the proper motivation to intervene in a more grievous situation. This motivation can be very strong and will sometimes cause them to intervene whether it is prudent or not. It can override fear, training (or the lack of ) and common sense. It can also push one to prevail where it was unlikely.

Training has a significant impact on this. Training in the various disciplines of confrontation can reinforce the motivation with confidence which may be good or bad. It can provide the confidence in ones ability to intervene whereas one with no training may see only futility in intervention. On the other hand, training may make one overconfident to the point of ill advised intervention. The outcome usually decides which is the case, depending on the personal view of the one intervening. To one, losing ones life to save another would be a victory, to another a loss. Training in law and personal liability can provide confidence by knnowing where one stands within the law and when he can legally act. This may not prevent one from intervening in a borderline situation, depending on how they perceive the plight of the victim. Or it may prevent one from intervening, where legally appropriate, based on fear of legal ramifications.

Some might enter experience here. I disagree. I believe experience will have a much greater affect on the type of action you take than on the decision to take action and for many it (experience) may be very limited. I think its input into the decision will be outweighed by the other factors.

So there is the motivation and training pushing in the same or different directions dependiing on personal beliefs, feelings and the situation. What will often sway the decision one way or the other is that adrenalin surge that some receive at the perception of a "situation". I believe this is one of the most powerful things that affect human behavior. I have never used drugs but I, having felt it (adrenalin surge) on more than one occasion, cannot imagine any drug more powerful. This can be negative by overriding, training or common sense or it can be positive in that it may override fear and enhance, perception, speed, power and endurance. It can push you into either "flight or fight". In any case it is a powerful factor.

So what am I saying? That there are many dichotomies in the decision to intervene or not. That in all likelihood YOU will not consciously make the decision. It will be made by the combination or your motivaton, training and adrenalin surge. The interaction of and the degree of concurrence or discord between them along with the weight given each component within yourself will determine whether you will intervene. This interaction will take place in the space of a few seconds or less and may well influence the rest of your life, if in fact you survive. You may be well into a "situation" when you think, "What am I doing here?". The decision once made is usually irreversible so LOOK TO YOUR MOTIVATION AND TRAINNING, they can have great affect on your life. Small differences in either one can have large ramifications. I don't know if it is possible for Civilians, or LEOs for that matter , based on the number of "situations" they encounter, to control the adreanlin surge.

Maybe I am overcomplicating something simple, but I have on occasion wondered what made me decide to act ot not to act in a given situation. Maybe others have also. I think that something that can affect the physical, psychological and financial well-being of someone is worth a discussion.
These are the things I believe YMMV

Guantes
02-27-2005, 07:25 PM
Sweatnbullets,
Thanks.
I went back and read both. Interesting reading.
Look forward to your post.

Matt,
I think we are on differnt wave lengths. You seem to be referring the action you take. I was referring to the process of the initial decision to intervene. In the scenario you provide, I am talking about the decision to intervene and do SOMETHING. The action, maybe a hose on the fire is another matter.

Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny
02-27-2005, 09:02 PM
Woof All:

A great pleasure to be in the present company contemplating this interesting question.

At the moment I would simply like to add a variable into the mix.

The Austrian scientist Konrad Lorenz (Nobel Laureate, author of many deep works such as "On Aggression" and lighter works such as "Man Meets Dog") spoke of "the Parliament of Instincts" that usually resulted in a decision distinct from what any one of the instincts would have yielded by itself just as a Parliament or a Congress yields results other than those intended by any one member.

As I look at the various times where I have stepped forward in this life (smaller in number and quality than many here no doubt) often there was a tremendous spontaneity and sometimes action only came after a calculation of variables.

With regard to the latter, it occurs to me that many of these cases came where it was hard to read the context-- a point made in various ways by many here.

Man is a social animal and his history until quite recently is one of living in groups where everyone knew everyone-- in tribes or analogous social units such as a village. This then expanded to conglomerations of such social units wherein all members, even when not known to each other personally, shared strong cultural values e.g. the Iriquois Confederacy from whence Benjamin Franklin got the idea of the federal system which our Constitution created.

However today we have a situation where we are often in interaction with people anonymous to us and from cultures and values unknown and/or comprehended by us.

Thus, for example, we are wired to respond to disrespect, but in the context of mass anonymity this can be counterproductive to survival. Here in LA if we honk our horn at the guy who cut us off in traffic, we might get shot. In the context of this thread, we may be wired to protect, but this instinct operates in a cacophony of other variables.

Just some rambling ruminations , , ,

Marc/Crafty Dog

PS; Thanks for the URLs to those threads SB.

RES
02-27-2005, 09:38 PM
Training in law and personal liability can provide confidence by knnowing where one stands within the law and when he can legally act. This may not prevent one from intervening in a borderline situation, depending on how they perceive the plight of the victim. Or it may prevent one from intervening, where legally appropriate, based on fear of legal ramifications.

I think you hit a big one right there.

There is a jumbled mess of legalisms, legal opinions (correct and incorrect), ignorance, and fear of ruination that impedes some from taking action when, otherwise, they might.

I frequently recommend that people who carry (or train in a martial art, etc.) seek good legal advice from an attorney, in regards to the criminal and civil consequences of acting, and use that advice to form part of the mold of their actions. Unfortunately, too many people rely on non-expert legal opinions, biased media coverage, and "common knowledge", rather than a qualified opinion.

Even worse, are the "armchair lawyers" that Google their state's criminal statutes on justification, and then assume they've covered all their legal bases.

The best advice I could give, to prevent "legal paralysis" in the decision-making process, is to do the following:

1) Seek the advice of an attorney, with regard to the criminal and civil ramifications of action;

2) Look into the NRA's "Excess Liability Insurance" program.

I'll probably have more to follow as this thread unfolds.

jack76590
02-27-2005, 09:51 PM
They claim most soldiers fight for his small squad, not to let his squad down, not to lose face in front of his squad, etc. So in the "pizza incident" on another thread there was not group cohesion, loyalty, trust call it what you will. And this is a primary reason people will fight. Then there is the fact we are territorial animals and this also was not present in the "pizza incident". So I think most people will fight when their group or their territory is threatened. When we had neighborhoods where people had grown up together, families went back generations, intermarriages, etc there was group cohesion and territorial feelings. So naturally in todays society, I do not find it surprising fewer people intervene.

Cold War Scout
02-28-2005, 04:28 AM
They claim most soldiers fight for his small squad, not to let his squad down, not to lose face in front of his squad, etc. So in the "pizza incident" on another thread there was not group cohesion, loyalty, trust call it what you will. And this is a primary reason people will fight. Then there is the fact we are territorial animals and this also was not present in the "pizza incident". So I think most people will fight when their group or their territory is threatened. When we had neighborhoods where people had grown up together, families went back generations, intermarriages, etc there was group cohesion and territorial feelings. So naturally in todays society, I do not find it surprising fewer people intervene.

No doubt in my mind that had this happened when a group of Gabe's students/WT Symposium students/AMOKS! were having dinner, everybody at the table would have gotten up. In this scenario we would have been clearly alone. In my mind the only concern I would have had was the belief that I would have needed to use deadly physical force/be prepared to quickly use deadly force in order to intervene AND ensure my personal survival. That I think would be the issue for many of us.

Al Lipscomb
02-28-2005, 05:14 AM
There are some that say we have a basic need to help out. Just as we want to be loved, we want to do good or get involved. I think we need to understand our self and not do things just because we feel we must.

There are times when we will help and times we will just make things worse. Knowing when to act is important, knowing when not to act is critical.

michael
02-28-2005, 06:43 AM
There are times when we will help and times we will just make things worse. Knowing when to act is important, knowing when not to act is critical.
There is a lot of wisdom wrapped up in Arl's words here. This is key to what we must all know, and what we as protectors do.

RES
02-28-2005, 10:48 AM
There are times when we will help and times we will just make things worse. Knowing when to act is important, knowing when not to act is critical.

Badda-bing.

In regards to the "pizza place incident", if one of us were present at that time, without the benefit of hindsight, how would we know what is happening? Those of us viewing the video (or any similar video) have the benefit of audio specialists, lip-readers, etc. combing over the tape to tell us what was said, highlighting and slow-motion playbacks to show us certain things that (even the best of us) might have otherwise missed, and commentary as to what happened prior to, and after, the fight, to put the events in perspective.

In keeping with my earlier commentary about legal ramifications, let's examine a few possible ones in this circumstance:

1) If employing OC to break up the fight, there are a multitude of possibilities:

a) You inadvertantly spray a bystander, who may suffer ill effects from it; who may be injured by the combatants while moving about while blinded; who may be injured by other bystanders who are moving away from the combatants, etc. Bystander would have a pretty good lawsuit, and you could be looking at criminal charges as well, for injuring (or causing to be injured) the bystander.

b) You spray both combatants, and the effect of the spray is more pronounced in the defender, and less pronounced in the attacker (ask any police officer how frequently pepper spray fails to work on certain people). Defender survives the attack, tells the police words to the effect of, "I was in a position to hit the guy back and get him off of me, and then my eyes started burning and I couldn't see or breathe, and then the attacker started pounding the snot out of me and I couldn't defend myself". Now, whether or not this is completely factual, it IS completely understandable, and the defender may feel totally truthful in saying it. When the police examine the video, they find that YOU were the one who sprayed the OC. Now you've contributed to the beating he recieved.

c) As above; except that the woman (attacker's girlfriend) attacks you from behind. Attacker turns on you, while girlfriend assumes the role of attacking the defender (while he is blinded and already hurting from the beating he just recieved). You now have not assisted the defender, since he is blinded and still being beaten (by the woman); you have, however, begun recieving said beating yourself, as well. Now there are two people being beaten, and attacker likely has possession of your OC (and, shortly, may have posession of your other weapons as well).

d) You employ OC and, whatever the outcome, the owner of the pizza parlor sues you for exposing his clientele to the OC, cost of decontamination, loss of business due to the release of OC, etc. The health department doesn't care that the OC was released for a good cause, they only care about the possible contamination of food and preparation/dining surfaces. Customers don't care that OC was released for a good reason, they just know that it was sprayed around. They also know that the fight at the pizza parlor involved more than two people, which makes it really bad, bad enough that they might hesitate to patron such an establishment again. The owner of said establishment, might just decide to take this out on YOU.

2) You present a firearm:

a) Attacker sees you, grabs you, and takes your gun away. I don't need to detail all of the possible legal outcomes of this.

b) You're charged with (whatever your state refers to as) displaying a weapon. The case against you? Two men were involved in a fistfight, and you displayed a weapon. Whether or not you are convicted of this offense, you must still hire an attorney, go to court, perhaps lose your job because of the amount of time away from work (in court), certainly lose alot of respect in the community (because of the media's reporting of you), and so forth.

c) As above; substitute an assault or homicide charge because you fired. Add lawsuits.

d) As above, except that your bullet(s) struck a bystander. Add many lawsuits.

I could go on for alot longer, but I think you're all getting the idea.

I would also add that no amount of internet bravado will mitigate the possibility of you being disarmed, shooting a bystander, OC'ing the wrong people, and so forth. "I'm too well-trained for that to happen" is a myth; it can happen to the best of us, and that must be understood and factored into the decision-making process.

Al Lipscomb
02-28-2005, 12:55 PM
In the Pizza parlor incident there were, in hindsight, things that I am sure would have helped the situation. Sometimes you just have to take a few more seconds and think before you act. I have done it wrong enough times to understand the urge to act but not have things figured out.

And of course there are situations when time is limited and you must act fast to save a life.

I was in a situation once where I watched a guy get pistol whipped. I was under age and unarmed at the time. I wanted to do _SOMETHING_. The good guy survived and the BG left with the victim alive and in fairly good shape. If I had jumped in I might have gotten someone killed (and that someone could have been me).

Guantes
02-28-2005, 01:26 PM
RES & arl

I agree completely with what you have stated.

RES,

The civil problems you alude to may not be the worst. Imagine that not being present at the begining, that who now appears to be the aggressor was initially the victim, who through training etc. (like many here) has gained the upper hand. He is a CCWr or an off duty LEO who is armed. As you intervene (you are also armed) this could go downhill in a heartbeat, turning into the "OK Corral", to the grief of everyone. A defiite possibility in "shall issue" states.

RES
02-28-2005, 01:35 PM
The civil problems you alude to may not be the worst. Imagine that not being present at the begining, that who now appears to be the aggressor was initially the victim, who through training etc. (like many here) has gained the upper hand. He is a CCWr or an off duty LEO who is armed. As you intervene (you are also armed) this could go downhill in a heartbeat, turning into the "OK Corral", to the grief of everyone. A defiite possibility in "shall issue" states.

You're right, man.

Like I said, a whole cornucopia of problems.

Eagle1
03-01-2005, 10:02 AM
As a reserve deputy, I always figured I would respond with my "LEO" hat rather than my "civilian" hat. However I have been re-thinking that strategy based on the following article that I found on www.forcescience.com:

"BLOOD LESSONS" FROM OFFICER INVOLVED IN FATAL OFF-DUTY SHOOTOUT IN CROWDED McDONALD'S

I had taken my family to a McDonald's Restaurant on our way to a pool party. I was off-duty, in civilian clothes, and armed.

I was standing in line and oblivious (like all the other patrons) to the fact that an armed suspect had taken the manager hostage and was forcing her to open the safe in the restaurant's office. One of the cashiers had seen this and I overheard her telling another employee that the business was being robbed.

At that time, I had approximately 15 years of experience and was a SWAT team member and use-of-force/firearms instructor. I had talked to my wife about such an occurrence and we had a preplanned response. When I told her to take the children and leave the building, she did not hesitate. I began quietly telling employees and patrons to leave. My thinking was to remove as many innocent bystanders as possible and then leave myself.

I thought that because I did not see the suspect enter he must have come in from a side door or employee entrance and I assumed (wrongly) that he would go out the same way. As I was standing near the front counter trying to get some of the kitchen help to get out, the suspect came from the office area and began running in my direction.

I immediately noted the large semi-automatic pistol in his hand. The distance was about 15 to 20 yards. I drew my weapon, announced myself and took a kneeling position behind the counter. Unfortunately, the suspect raised his weapon at me and the gunfight erupted. The suspect fired a total of 2 rounds in my direction. I fired 11, striking him 10 times.

My weapon was now empty and I ran from the line of fire to reload my spare magazine. I then approached the downed suspect and could tell that he was seriously wounded. It was right then that I considered that there might be more than one "bad guy" (the thought had not crossed my mind before this) and I began to scan the 360 to check.

I immediately noticed a small child lying behind me. I saw blood pooling under her head and knew at a glance she was dead. One of the bullets fired at me had struck this child. Unbeknownst to me, my family had tried to exit out the fire door, which was locked. My wife was still trying to get out when the shooting started and she pushed my kids under a table where they all witnessed the gunfight.

The end result was that the suspect died, I survived, but a 9-year-old girl did not.

I tell you this story because I think that this topic is of utmost importance. It is largely ignored in mainstream police training. I want to tell you some of the lessons I learned from this incident.

1. If you are going to carry a firearm off-duty, you should carry extra ammo. Security camera video of this incident revealed that I fired all 11 rounds from my Glock 26 in about 2 seconds. My extra mag held 17 rounds.
Words cannot describe the emotion I felt when I slammed that mag into my weapon and was able to still be in the fight.

Mostly because of circumstances (distance) and my training, my rounds were on target. It could have happened differently and the reality is that most of us miss more than we hit when involved in a gun battle.

2. You cannot have the typical police mind-set in an off-duty situation. I ended up in this incident without a radio, without backup, without body armor, handcuffs, other force options and without taking the time to think it through. I was truly most frightened when the gunfight was over and I was standing there covering the suspect with my weapon in my T-shirt and shorts. I was really worried that one of my own guys might not recognize me. I was worried too that there might be some other off-duty copper around who would think I was the bad guy.

The smartest, most responsible thing I could have done would have been to take care of my family first. I should have seen personally to their safety. If I had grabbed them and gone outside, I would have spared them this entire experience and that little girl would probably still be alive today.

Again, words cannot describe the emotions that we all went through after this incident. I recognized afterward that it could have been one of my children lying dead because of my actions. When you are off-duty your first responsibility is to your family. You should never forget this.

3. I survived this incident. Partly due to my training and tactics. Partly due to God's grace and blind luck. But the other side of the coin is that I got into this incident because of my training. I switched immediately into "cop" mode without stopping to consider that I was at a great tactical disadvantage. Most of us are driven and dedicated to the point of self destruction and I think good cops die because we are taught to place our personal safety second when others are in danger.

Because I had never trained realistically for a situation like this, I was unprepared. Most of the guys I worked with then and now carry off-duty weapons. But few of them, if any, have really taken the time to engage in realistic training and preparation for how to handle an off-duty incident.

Training can be as simple as discussing these types of situations with your coworkers. Since this shooting, I have devoted at least one quarterly range session with my students to off-duty encounters and the associated considerations.

4. The responsibility of carrying a firearm is huge. I had devoted countless hours to training for the fight, but was not fully prepared for the aftermath. None of the training scenarios, books, films, etc. that I learned from touched upon the fact that when you take that gun out and decide to take action, 9-year-old kids can get killed. Even if you do everything by the book, use good tactics, and are within policy and the law, the outcome can still be negative.

You have to remember that the suspect does not go to the range and he does not practice rules of weapons safety. He does not care about what's in his line of fire. If it's you or him, you gotta do what you gotta do, but whether you're on-duty or off-duty we need to train to look at the totality of the incident. Letting the bad guy go because doing otherwise would place innocent people in grave danger needs to be more "socially acceptable"
amongst our ranks. I think we're starting to see more of this in the pursuit policies of most agencies and I have tried to carry this message over into my training and teaching.

I guess the bottom line here is that it's good to be on "auto pilot" when it comes to tactics in these situations, but we can't go on auto pilot in our assessment and examination of the environment and circumstances leading up to and during the event. On-duty mind-set and off-duty mind-set need to be strongly separated and the boundaries clear.

A California Sergeant

The Searcher
03-01-2005, 10:36 AM
Being in "Yellow" can help you make a wiser and informed decision on whether to intervene in a situation as well as keeping you from being surprised by thugs bent on attacking you.

It keeps you from coming in late and having to guess who's the bad guy and what happened during the "First Act." It can also save your life by letting you know there are more bad guys waiting just off stage.

RES
03-01-2005, 11:29 AM
Being in "Yellow" can help you make a wiser and informed decision on whether to intervene in a situation as well as keeping you from being surprised by thugs bent on attacking you.

Problem is, "White-Yellow-Orange-Red" is only applicable to those who have good awareness skills. Awareness skills are, predominantly, gained through experience, which most people don't have (enough of) (including most CCW'ers).

For the majority of the population, the color codes should be "White-Pink-Red". They spend most of their time completely oblivious ("white); they may suspect something, and do nothing about it, or be suspicious of something based on nothing more than bigotry or indignation ("pink"); and then go to red only after they've begun sustaining a beating ("red").

MTS
03-02-2005, 03:47 AM
RES,

+1 on your post. Sad but true.

RES
03-02-2005, 09:47 AM
Thanks, Mark!

Gun Mutt
03-03-2005, 10:03 PM
I was referring to the process of the initial decision to intervene. In the scenario you provide, I am talking about the decision to intervene and do SOMETHING.
Some 10+yrs ago I read a reprint of & comment on a psychological study of gun owners vs non-owners in one of the gunzines.
(Anyone remember this article/source?)

It found that people like us were more likely to help people in need; from assisting a stranded motorist to stopping a beating and less likely to start fights.

More over it found that men who are physical antoagonists are more likely to be anti-gun & are demeaning of those who own them. BTW, about a month after I read the article the bar's asst-mngr got a new boyfriend who she said "hated" guys who carry guns & compared them to a very specific part of the female anatomy. He turned out to be one of the town's more brutal bully-bar-brawlers ...a total POS who battered weaker men at the drop of a hat.

I am proud to say that the gun owners/carriers that I knew/know fit in the first catagory & I knew this info long before anyone with a PHD made a study of it.

Eagle1 - Great Post! I am definitely sharing that one with everyone of my friends that carry.

michael
03-04-2005, 09:13 PM
SB's,

Warriors don't have a choice.http://www.warriortalk.com/images/smilies/wink.gif

Guantes
03-04-2005, 09:56 PM
SB's

The original intent of the thread was never to knock anyone that has intervened and helped some poor victim. Its purpose was to create discussion among some people that collectively have a vast amount of knowledge and experience. By doing so, to display some possibilities and ramifications that those of lesser experience might consider. Although I believe in prudence and avoidance, I do agree with you that there are times that (I don't recall who said it or if this is quite right), "Its time to whip the horses and the devil take the hindmost".

I think you express your views quite eloquently.

Guantes
03-05-2005, 07:00 AM
Sbs,
I don't think there is anything wrong with someone who wants to help someone in need.
I agree that once your involved you better be all there.